Coronavirus and Overseas Shipping: What You Need to Know

International_Container_Cargo_ShipThe coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every facet of international logistics and commerce — and some consumers and businesses are scrambling to get the goods and supplies they need to weather the storm.

We know you’re facing a great deal of uncertainty. You want to do everything you can to support your customers during this turbulent time — but the coronavirus's impact on the economy is unprecedented and creating challenges.

It’s difficult not to feel overwhelmed when there are still many unknowns, but there are a few things you can do, with the support of worldwide transportation companies like ATS International, to mitigate challenges and continue supporting your customers.

Here’s how the virus has affected global shipping and a few actions you can take now.

How the Coronavirus Is Impacting Overseas Shipping

Since the beginning of the year, COVID-19 has spread rapidly around the world. In its wake, most governments have instituted policies to restrict and control the movement of people to reduce the spread of the virus.

But, understandably, none have restricted the movement of commerce.

Because of how important it is to keep commerce flowing to essential businesses and services, shipping and logistics companies are considered essential. It’s our collective duty to keep critical supplies moving.

And even though the international logistics industry has seen minimal disruption to date, coronavirus did impact overseas shipping, with the temporary port closures in China.

At the beginning of January, the Chinese economy was forced to effectively “close” for two months. As you know, China is a major source of products for most world markets, and its “closure” forced ocean carriers to cancel shipments, as there was no freight to move. At this point, no other country has taken such drastic measures.

In early March, however, Chinese manufacturing activity returned and cargo began flowing in and out of the country once more. Aside from some border delays in Europe, international commerce continues to flow freely.

3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Mitigate Challenges

There’s no denying the situation is serious. And you know your customers are counting on you.

While you can’t change the situation or predict the future, there are a few actions you can take to mitigate additional challenges:

  1. Be transparent: Your customers are just as stressed and concerned as you and your team and they need reassurance. However, they also need to know the truth. It’s crucial you’re as forthcoming as possible about any changes to your shipments, timelines and whether you’ll be able to meet expectations.

    Additionally, be sure to let customers know how you’ll be responding to their questions and concerns, and keep them updated on changes as they occur.

    Communication is always vital, but it’s even more critical right now.

  2. Keep shipments moving: The transportation of cargo and goods is currently exempt from border restrictions — global seaports are still fully operational, including standard gate and stevedoring activities. Cargo is still being picked up, ships are sailing and goods are being delivered just as they always have. The free flow of commerce is vital to ensuring the safety and welfare of citizens around the world.

    In other words, it’s critical you keep your shipments moving. While we anticipate a decrease in volume due to manufacturing closures and social distancing regulations, people still need goods, and it’s up to us to work together and continue delivering them.

  3. Be informed and prepared: Things change by the hour and it’s essential you stay up to date on how the industry is responding. Remember, the rules that applied last week may no longer hold true today and your vigilance is essential.

We’re Here for You

Family-owned for more than 65 years, we’ve been through plenty of market challenges and changes over the years. We know things are uncertain, but we’ll be here to help and continue to provide the best overseas shipping services we can.

ATS International is maintaining a fully operational status and we’re ready to service our clients. Our priorities are always the safety of our employees, drivers, customers, vendors, partners and all ATS International stakeholders, as well as maintaining the continuity of our essential services during the COVID-19 crisis.

While essential services will continue operating at corporate headquarters and ATS International service facilities, much of our office workforce has transitioned to virtual. We’re also equipped with the resources needed to work remotely at full capacity and will continue to evaluate each facility on a case-by-case basis in coordination with local, state and federal officials.

In that effort, we are focused on increasing our communications with our customers, shippers, consignees, ocean partners and critical vendors as it is vital to ensuring transit efficiency for each shipment we handle.

Over the past several years, we’ve also built an extensive agent network with boots-on-the-ground all around the globe, which means we’re learning firsthand what’s happening at major ports. This insight allows us the ability to shift processes and do what is needed to meet our customers’ needs.

While we don’t know how long this may continue, we’ll continue to be transparent and keep you updated.

If you have any questions or concerns now and in the coming weeks, please contact us online, reach out to your local sales or customer service representative or call ATS International at 866-854-2747. We’ll get through this together.

Tags: Coronavirus, International Shipping

Jay Thomassen

Written by Jay Thomassen

Jay is the Vice President of Commercial Services for ATS International. Jay advanced to his current role after more than a decade as Director of ATS International. He has partnered with ATS since 1992 in his various roles with both U.S. domestic and ocean transportation carriers. Jay began his transportation career in 1986 as a commercial over-the-road Driver following his service in the U.S. Navy.

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